Much of the first meeting of a citizens’ group formed to address safety concerns on Shannon Hill Road (Rt. 605) focused on residents’ unresolved grievances about the planned 700-acre industrial park.
The June 30 gathering at Yanceyville Christian Church was attended by about 50 people, including three members each of the county’s board of supervisors and planning commission. William Hale, an area resident, organized the meeting after telling county officials at several public hearings that the industrial park will create major traffic problems on Shannon Hill Road.
Some meeting attendees wanted to talk about the park itself. George Payne, who lives nearby, wondered if there should be a petition started to recall supervisors who voted to buy and rezone the park land. Randy Holladay, of Roundabout Road, said he wants to prevent the county from connecting the park to the public water supply.
Others who attended had varied complaints about existing conditions on the road. Some bemoaned drivers who ignore speed limits and sheriff’s deputies who aren’t present to ticket them. Others called for the Virginia Department of Transportation to acquire more right-of-way to widen the road. Bonnie Weber, who lives just north of the South Anna River near a sharp curve, said a logging truck once crashed in front of her daughter’s home next door, and some of the logs tumbled into the side of the house.
“It’s beyond hazardous,” she said.
Until Dewey Keeton complained after moving to Shannon Hill Road in the late 1990s, he recalled, there was no posted speed limit. That meant a uniform limit of 55 miles per hour. The road is now posted at 50 miles per hour near the industrial park and at 45 mph closer to Jefferson Highway. But Keeton said a lower limit is needed.
“The way VDOT does their road studies takes no consideration of the homeowners,” he said.
The supervisors have instructed Timmons Group, the consultants the county has hired to manage the study, to consider several key intersections along the road between Broad Street Road (Rt. 250) in Goochland County and Rt. 33, a stretch of more than nine miles. The board also expects the study to take into account how different phases of the industrial park’s development would affect traffic patterns.
At this point there are no other criteria for the study. Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral district) said at the meeting he wants to ban trucks entering and exiting the park from using Shannon Hill Road, except to and from Interstate 64. State officials would have to approve the restriction. The ban would not apply to logging and farm-related trucks that use the road now.
Some residents are doubtful whether the traffic study will accomplish much to make travel safer. Mary Kranz, who lives near Shannon Hill Road, said she has concerns about the ability of Andy Wade, the county’s economic development director, and Timmons Group to get the job done properly.
“I don’t trust Timmons,” Mary Kranz, who lives near Shannon Hill Road, said. “We need oversight of them.”
Timmons is also in charge of preparing a master plan for the industrial park.
Supervisor Willie Gentry (Cuckoo district) has commented that since Shannon Hill Road is a secondary road, it’s unlikely to be a candidate for much financial aid from the state. The road currently is more narrow than primary roads and lacks painted white lines, rumble strips, reflectors and other tools used to make those roads safer.
Bill Billingsley, who lives on Willis Proffitt Road, the section of Rt. 605 north of Jefferson Highway, said excessive speed is the biggest problem he sees.
“The speed limit in front of my house is 45. They come through at 70 to 80 miles per hour—I am not exaggerating,” he said. “The problem isn’t the speed limit, it’s about enforcement of the limits that we have. We need the supervisors to acknowledge there’s a problem here.”
Hale said he envisions the Route 605 Corridor Committee becoming a permanent activist body, pointing to the Lake Anna Civic Association as a model.